January 13, 2010

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David K, Ben, Binyamin, Abraham, Bill, Shirley, Eitan, Emily

A nice complement of gamers return. First time we had three simultaneous games going in a while. Bill and Shirley return from a US visit.

Dominion / Intrigue / Seaside

Nadine 36, Jon 31, David, Gili

We played with random cards from all sets, and ended up with four cards that let you trash cards in your deck. I used Remodel, Wharf, and Nobles. Nadine seems to win by simply taking Silvers.

Binyamin 19, Ben 18, Abraham 17

While we played with one set of treasures, they played with the other set. I didn’t see the results, but apparently Ben ended up with 11 or so curses.

Homesteaders

Jon 65, Gili 48, Eitan 43

First play for me and Eitan, second play for Gili. I had been wanting to play this ever since it was demo’d for me at BGG.con, but it never worked out. However, when I can get three games running simultaneously at game night, working things out becomes easier.

Homesteaders is up there with the great Eurogames, nearly all pure resource management and optimization, tons of routes to victory, a stark progression throughout the game, and interaction through auctions and denying other people scarce rewards.

It’s hard to get everything you want or need, and yet (in our game) money wasn’t too tight or painful, since you can always try something else, instead. It will take several playing to figure out play beyond mere “decent” to “focused”. Which is how it should be. I really love it. It has Alex Rockwell’s signature all over it.

It’s not perfect, however. It’s actually a little short (!). And, while elegant, sensible, and straightforward, and theme looks like it should be dripping from the pieces, the theme doesn’t come through much, and the game is not so … immersive as Puerto Rico, Agricola, or some other games. It’s very nerdy and calculating. You have to love planning and calculating. Trade this for that, these for those, swap these other things for one more of these, build a better income to get more of these, and gain move vp’s with these others.

It’s also a bit much for my analysis paralysis gamers, because they want to calculate all the possible points for all the possible swaps, and the time to value ratio for this is low. As for me, I just picked a few good paths and stuck with those that enhanced them, dismissing without calculating many other paths as not worth time thinking about. I figure that I’ll play several more games, trying out a bunch of paths each game, and then I’ll have a better idea about which ones work best.

In the meantime, as you can see, I won handily. I started with early steel production, and then used that for early trade chip production. Not too many of anything, but some of many things. I ignored apples and cows entirely, and only got a gold at the end for the 2 vp it gave me. I also got a few buildings that gave points for buildings of type X, and a few buildings of type X, which I recognized as fairly efficient. Lastly, the end buildings that let you buy them and then let you buy an additional building are killer buildings.

Nearly all of my buildings required no people, so I was saved in having to get people, and in having to pay for their upkeep. I wasn’t contested enough in the buildings; only once, when I had to pay $9 for what I wanted. I’m sure that won’t happen again, and money will feel more tight. I can’t tell you much about what the others were doing; Gili had warned that trade chips were essential, and so Eitan ended up with too many of them. Gili stole the 10 point building that generates 2 points a round away from me, but I got several other nice buildings instead.

One other thing: I think the debt taking is a tad too easy. You can take them whenever you want and there is no sense whatsoever in paying them back before the end of the game. They should really cost $1 a turn to maintain, like people.

Le Havre

Binyamin 137, Abraham 121, Emily 99

I foisted this onto them; Binyamin actually wanted to play Homesteaders, but we needed to divvy the people up. First play for him and for Emily. Abraham had played once before.

Binyamin didn’t like the game so much, although he may have warmed a little to it by the end. I think he compared it unfavorably to Agricola.

Tribune

Ben 29, David 26, Nadine, Bill, Shirley

First play for everyone except Ben and Nadine. Nadine loves the game. Ben enjoys it, too. David didn’t warm to it much, though I don’t know why. David and Ben were the only ones who fulfilled the victory conditions, so once again it came down to who finished them first for the 2 point swing. David claims that he lost due to a specific mistake he knows that he made.

Saikoro

Jon+, Eitan

I taught this wonderful little two-player quick game to Eitan, who also liked it. I wish the box would allow a tad more room to shake the dice. Otherwise, it’s a neat and pretty little two player strategy game that plays differently each time and takes only about five minutes.

Bridge

Jon/Nadine, Ben/David/Binyamin

We managed to play several hands of this at the end of game night. Bridge is always fun, always good, always challenging, and always will be. It’s what a great game should be.

Eitan looked on and tried to learn.

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